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Evaluating your handgun Loads

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by GRingle, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. GRingle

    GRingle Queen Creek Arizona New Member

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    New to the reloading game. Been shooting handguns for 4 months. That being said my thoughts are I need a low cost load that with minimum recoil is reliable and accurate out to 10 to 15 yds.

    How do you evaluate your loads?

    My situation;
    Hand gun is a 45 ACP SA Range Officer
    My focus is starting to settle in at general target shooting at the local indoor range and the Tuesday Night Steel shooting at the local outdoor range

    Projectiles used so far;
    Hornady 230 gn FMJ-RN -- very first loads I reloaded
    HSM 230 gn Plated RN
    Precision Delta 230 gn FMJ RN
    and just rcvd some SNS 230 gn Lead RN -- lowest cost so far

    My process so far has been 2 part...
    Part 1 -- to work with the minimum loads as published to look for a round that when shooting slow fire at the indoor range provides the tightest groups

    Part 2 -- work on a faster rate of fire that maintains tight groups

    Thoughts.... minimum recoil helps reacquire the target faster and low powder charges help brass last longer as well as my pocket book

    Todate.... I have not seen much difference in my rounds performance. I started moving out to 15 yds to gain some separation on the groups. I feel as my skill improves I may start reducing the human error in the equation and maybe start to see differences in the loads. So for now maybe shoot the cheapest load I can while improving the skills.

    Work on me then go back to working on "the load" later?

    Any thoughts or advice.
  2. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    My handgun loads are not developed to "kill paper". When searching for the best load I started with the bullet I intended to carry for SD. Then I worked the load up to the best speed for bullet performance. The rest was a matter of shooting enough to be proficient with THAT load. I trained myself to be good with the best load, not the other way around where I looked for a load that was weak enough to make me look good. Fine for paper, bad for the "real world".

    My carry pistols are 9mm's and perform excellent with 124 gr bullets. All my practice and "carry" loads are based on the Speer Gold Dot Hollow Point. For practice I use Montana Gold 124 gr JHP's which are loaded to the same speed as for the GDHP's. Performance on paper targets is the same, the edge on a "real target" goes to the GDHP's.

    Of course if all one does is shoot paper, then the method's outlined are adequate.

    BTW, I don't guess, I use a chronograph.
  3. nwhpfan

    nwhpfan Hopville Active Member

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    #1 can be a good indicator if the combination of powder, weight, bullet, weight; and your pistol work well together. If at 25 yards it groups nice-personally I'd say less than 2" rested off a sandbag-it's good to go. As for your #2, that's more about you. You will need a chronograph to ensure you don't have alot of deviation in your speed. Good luck.
  4. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    Your training loads should be as close in recoil and slide speed as possible to your carry loads if you want to get as good as you can get
  5. GRingle

    GRingle Queen Creek Arizona New Member

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    Thank you all.

    I dont carry for SD. My loads are developed merely for "killing paper or steel". To me the handgun is nothing more than a hobby for competion in shooting steel.

    I should look into bench resting the handgun for load development to see about reducing the human factor. Never tried bench rest with the 1911. Use it for the 270 amd 7mm load development. Guess it makes sense for the 45 ACP as well. Good ideas. So 2" groups at 25 yds rested is "good"?
  6. Sheldon

    Sheldon California Member

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    I am the same way as far as reloading goes. I target shoot and kill paper! I have fun with it and just find a load based more on recoil than anything. Can't say my accuracy is anything to write home about, but I shoot better than most of my friends so the practice is not a waste. So I think my loads despite not being on the hot side, suffice at alowing me to more comfortably shoot, both in recoil and costs.

    Powder is the cheapest component in reloading. The cost between a low velocity load versus a top end load in 45 Acp is pretty minimal. If all you want it a soft target load, work on one that is accurate and reliable in your firearm. If you want to later get more accustomed to a harder hitting load then load it hotter and practice with it. Reloading is so great in that it allows you that flexibility.

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    Yes it is, if you are getting that consistently from your 1911. I am at that with mine - I even once managed an approximate 1.5" group benchrested. I got that with 3.5 grains of Bulleseye and Laser Cast 200 grain SWC bullets. As far as evaluation is concerned I too load for the best accuracy, best functioning and cleanliness. I look at my cases and inside the gun for powder residue and while it has given me good accuracy so far Bulleseye is not the cleanest powder in a 1911. I usually find many unburned particles in the action and the cases seem to be blackened more than other calibers I load with Bullseye. I am going to be trying some different powders in the hope of maintaining accuracy with cleaner operation.
  8. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Like many of the people here pointed out, you have done a good job narrowing your focus. Lots of people set out to make the MOST AWESOME HANDLOAD EVER! and want something that will kill badguys out to 1000 yards, and have no recoil, and will penetrate through armored vehicles and be devastating on soft tissue.

    Under nearly every circumstance I've come across, slower loads are more accurate loads. For price, I usually stick with either plated or cast for my target loads. The 200gr RNSWC that's available from many of the different bullet casting companies (it's a standard magma mold) is a very good bullet for the 1911.

    Depending on what type of competition shooting you're doing, you may have power factor concerns. However, in general, I find the .45 has less recoil than many other calibers due to the slower muzzle velocity and the heavier gun. For slow loads, you need to stick with the faster burning powders, clays has always been one of my favorites. IIRC I usually load about 3.9grs, and it delivers a 5" group at 25yards offhand. I think this load may be below the minimum, but I've shot over 25k of them in the last 10 years without issue.